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Changes to be recommended

During its Aug. 25 meeting, members of the Jonesborough Traffic Advisory Committee voted to recommend to the Board of Mayor and Aldermen an intersection layout plan for Main and Boone streets, and a change in the parking status in front of the Chester Inn.
The TAC considered different designs for the intersection of Main and Boone streets during the spring in order to improve pedestrian safety and the flow of traffic through town.
The available asphalt for a pedestrian to cross Boone Street on the north side of the intersection and the lack of designated walking space in front of the Exxon Station were both concerns.
In addition, traffic congestion is often a problem during the morning on Main Street from motorists trying to turn left onto Fox or Boone streets. As these drivers wait for a break in the oncoming traffic, the line of cars behind them blocks the Boone Street intersection.
At that time, engineer Todd Wood presented a variety of intersection layouts, including a possible traffic circle. Since then, a new option has been developed with the following components presented in the following report from Town Administrator Bob Browning:
The northbound lane on Boone from Main is wider, allowing more flexibility to turn from Main Street onto Boone Street.
Next to the existing gas canopy at the Exxon Station, Boone Street narrows into two 12-foot lanes. This redesign includes enough area to develop a walkway and landscaping along the Exxon Station, as well as providing additional area along the Baptist Church for parking. While this new parking backs out into the normal traffic flow, a lot of the use of the parking area is on Sunday or in the evening when the traffic flow is greatly reduced.
There is one point of ingress and egress into the Exxon site from Boone Street, and one point of access to the property from Sabine Avenue as well.
A left turn lane of 11 feet has been established eastbound on Main Street to allow a designated lane for vehicles turning left onto Boone Street. There is also an 11-foot through lane eastbound on Main Street that will allow traffic moving through to potentially deal with less congestion. Although we want to discourage tractor-trailer trucks downtown, some will appear, and the left turn lane and straight through lanes can be both used by a truck to have enough radius to turn left onto Boone Street. The length of a tractor-trailer will prevent a vehicle trying to pull around the truck into the left turn lane.
A left turn lane has been developed westbound from Main Street onto Fox Street. This turn lane provides more opportunity for continuous traffic flow westbound on Main Street and less opportunity for back-up congestion.
The 8-foot painted island between the north- and southbound lanes on Boone at the intersection could be mounded slightly so it is mountable, but it also creates more of a defined area that should not be regularly run over by motorists.
A triangular-painted island is created just above Spring Street on Main Street that moves traffic coming down the hill slightly over to the right so vehicles stay out of the way of the proposed left turn land eastbound.
Sabine Avenue and Boone Street are realigned so that a pedestrian walkway is present and vehicles have to slow down to make the turn.
The newly proposed plan is more realistic than the other proposals, and only one parking space along the church and one or two spaces along the north side of Main Street would be eliminated.
“Nobody wants to lose parking spaces, but we are looking at long-term congestion (on Main Street), and the congestion of Fox Street is a big problem,” Browning said.
Jimmy Rhein referred to the additional parking now available downtown.
“We’ve opened up more parking than we’ve ever had by the Justice Center moving,” Rhein said.
“We’ve opened up spaces behind the courthouse, they’re just not directly on the street.”
Chair Chris Diehl asked about the turning radiuses in the new plan, and Wood said there will be no changes to some, and those that are changed will be as large as they can be.
Dr. William Kennedy moved to recommend approving the new proposed intersection layout and recommend its adoption and implementation to the BMA. Steve Alexander seconded the motion, which passed with Diehl being the only member to vote against.
Deborah Montanti, executive director of the Heritage Alliance, requested the Traffic Advisory Committee consider changing the parking places in front of the Chester Inn to short-term status because the vehicles limit access to the interpretive area underneath.
Kennedy said being able to see the artwork in the window could draw people to the museum.
“How many parking places are we talking about losing,” Diehl asked.
“Older visitors may not want, or even be able, to walk several blocks. Will our businesses and restaurants lose business?”
Montanti said the three spaces are occupied all day by employees of the Chester Inn.
“Employees don’t need to be parking on Main Street,” Kennedy said. “It’s just silly.”
Wood said employees’ parking out front is an issue with every business downtown.
Kennedy moved to recommend changing the status in front of the Chester Inn to 20-minute parking. Alexander seconded, and the vote was unanimous.